Staying The Course

It’s been a little less than two weeks since I started my journey to finding my faith back. I’ve been diligent in the prayer time I set. It’s not been easy. Ever since I started, things have popped up that really distracts me from taking time to pray.

However I continued to persevere and managed to stick to the prayer time I set. There were days that the time was shorter than I would have wanted but at least I was able to stay the course and I hope that I continue to do so.

There are current struggles that I’m facing right now that are hard for me to try and keep faith that God will see me through these challenges.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Sacrifice

Prof. Randy Pausch said in his last lecture that there are 3 steps to a good apology. One, admit your mistake, two apologize and 3 ask how do you make things right.

In a way that’s what I realized today. For the things I did wrong, I should admit my mistake to God, apologize and ask him how can I make things right. An addition to that I realized that I also have to make sacrifices.

Right now while I’m at a crossroads in my life. I am praying to God to show me the way. Apart from praying I’m also making a sacrifice. It’s nothing big, something simple but it’s something I love to do. So I stopped playing Xbox 360 last Jan 7. I will not play for 30 days. I love my Xbox and when I get spare moments I do play. Especially now since I have a new game but that’s my sacrifice.

Honoring God

Today’s prayer time lead me to the book of Daniel, chapter 5. This chapter talks about King Belshazzar. He was having a banquet with noblemen from his kingdom and he had asked that they bring out gold and silver cups taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem. He, his noblemen and concubines drank from the cups.

During the party there appeared a hand which wrote down a message on the wall where the king could see it. No one could read it until the Queen Mother told the King of a man named Daniel.

Daniel read the writing and told the King about the message.

To cut a long story short, the gist of the message was that God was angry that the King disrespected him. The passage that stood out to me from the whole chapter is this:

bq. “But you did not honor the God who determines whether you live or die and who controls everything you do.”

Sometimes and I’m guilty of this as well, people tend to forget who the true God is. Instead we worship other things such as people, money, power, etc. While these things might be powerful in our Earthly world, they’re nothing compared to the awesome power of God.

Man to a certain extent controls his own destiny but God controls it completely.

People ask why certain things happen in the world, why God allows such events to happen. I’ve always believed that God gave man free will to do as he pleases. It’s sort of a test to see how well man responds to God’s teachings. The other things such as natural disasters, etc are events that happen as a result of the world God created for us.

Honoring God is important. We should never forget who has total control over our lives. I still find it a little hard to surrender completely. A big part of me still believes that my life is a result of what I make out of it. The actions I do, determine the outcome. Yet there are a lot of things that have happened which I knew were not of my doing but resulted in great things.

I am reminded today that all things I do and all things I accomplish is a result of God’s support. I should honor him for that.

Day : Two New Prayers and a Reading on Unfaithfulness

It’s been four days now since I went back to praying on a regular basis. I prayed before but it was sporadic at best. It’s only now after a long time that I really sat down and chose a regular schedule to pray. I know pray in the morning, just after my morning exercise. I’m also trying to make it a habit to blog about my reflections, not for anyone else but just to get my thoughts down.

Today, I opened a book, “Presence – Prayers for Busy People”. It was a birthday present from Grace, the regular nurse that assists in my infusions. I chose two prayers found in the book. One is a morning prayer and the other is for choosing God’s will. Allow me to share both of these to you.

h3. Morning Prayer

Dear Lord,
I thank you for having especially
called me to remind me to pray every day.
Being the busy person that I am, my
demanding schedule has often caused me to take
you for granted unintentionally.
But not I really want to devote you this
time because I love you and I need you in my life.
Thank you for granting me the privilege of
spending this time with you.
Please quiet my heart, take away whatever
burdens I now feel so I can abandon myself
completely to you. Cleanse my heart so my prayers
may be worthy of you.
Teach me how to pray so that my words will come from my heart.
Help me too, to learn how to listen so that
my mind and heart can hear your voice and
understand your will. Amen.

h3. For Choosing God’s Will
Dear Father,
You are the creative origin of all I am
and of all I am called to be.
With the talents and opportunities I have,
how may I serve you best?
Please guide my mind and heart,
open me to the needs of my country and of the world,
and help me choose wisely and practically
for your honor and glory
and for the good of all those
whose lives I touch. Amen

I also opened my bible randomly and the reading I got today was from the book of Jeremiah again. Specifically Jeremiah 2: 14:19 – The Result of Israels Unfaithfulness.

I guess today’s reading is a reminder to be by God that amidst all the trials I am going to through that I should remain faithful. The reading showed me what happens when you lose faith and stray from the path that God has laid out for you.

God Will Provide

Last night it was my mom’s birthday. We had a family dinner at home. It was a great dinner. Good food and wine. I sat there thinking that we’re indeed still luckier than most.

My mom had been wanting to have a family talk, just the four of us to plan out our year and hopefully more than that. So last night was a perfect opportunity about that.

One of the things that I shared with them was my concern of what to do in the future. I’m starting out the year with great challenges ahead. There will be some big changes and I have yet to figure out what to do. This is mostly related to work. So my main concern was what to do about that.

I told them that I had a goal that within my 30s I should have come up with a new and successful business that will sustain our life for the years to come. I still don’t know how to do it but that’s my plan. I have several things I want to do now but right now it’s still a plan.

Today I prayed and instead of randomly picking out a passage in the Bible, I decided to read the gospel for today. The gospel came from Mark 6: 34-44. It narrates the miracle of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes. It shows how Jesus was able to provide for 5,000 people with the simple resources available to them. More than that, after everyone ate, there were still an abundance of food.

I guess in a way, this reading assured me that God will provide. There was a reflection after the reading (I got the gospel through a daily email my uncle forwards to us), it talks about the fact that while God/Jesus provides he asks us to take the initiative. The Apostles provided the 5 loaves and 2 fishes and Jesus did the rest.

I don’t expect God to provide while I’m sitting on my butt and doing nothing. I need to start it and God will take it from there and guide me along the way.

I’d like to share the last paragraph or the reflection.

bq. We praise and thank You, Father God, for providing us with all the things we need in life, and for nourishing us with Your Word, and the Bread of Life, Whom we receive in the Holy Mass. Help us to share these blessings with others, we pray. Amen.

To Mom On Her Birthday

On this day, some years ago (I won’t mention how long ago) a very special girl was born. She would grow up to be a great daughter, a good friend, a loving wife and a very kind and understanding mother. She simply became a wonderful person both inside and out.

I have had a lot of blessings in my life but most of them would fail in comparison to the blessing that is my mom. She’s was the one who brought my brother and I into this world and continues to give us life with the home that she has provided us. She has been selfless and put our needs above hers. At times sacrificing her own wants and needs just so she can give us a happy life.

Her life has been filled with sacrifices for her family. Not once complaining about it because for the people she loved, nothing mattered but their happiness.

We’ve had our share of ups and downs. Trials here and there but through it all she handled everything with grace.

A great testament to how good of a person my mom is, is the fact that I have not encountered a single person who does not like her. A lot of my friends become her friends as well. I can leave my friends with her and they probably would not notice that I was gone. She is loved by all.

On this, her birthday, my wish for mom is for her continued health and happiness. I also wish that all the sacrifices she made will bear fruit. She deserves to be happy and fulfilled. May the Good Lord shower her with all the blessings.

I love you mom!

Prayer

My second day of opening the bible brought me to the book of Psalms. Specifically chapters 51 onwards. These were prayers. Prayers for forgiveness, A prayer for protection from enemies, etc…

At first I couldn’t understand what the message was. The prayers were ok but the specific prayers I read did not speak to me. I continued to read and closed the bible after awhile. As I finished my prayer time it dawned on me what the message was, prayer!

I think God is telling me that you can’t have true faith without prayer and trying to understand what you believe in. It was that simple. I need to pray more.

Faith

Today was the first time I opened the bible in a long, long time. In the past few months I’ve felt that my faith was slowly eroding. Things have been happening in my life that have caused me to slowly lose faith. My belief in God was being replaced by cynicism. I believe there is a God but was he really looking after me? Out of the billions of people in the world, how could he have time for me?

From temporarily missing my treatments, to finding out that someone very important to me is gravely ill, problems with work and just other personal problems, this year was certainly filled with challenges.

I was feeling lost. My life was losing direction and meaning. I was searching or rather still searching for answers.

For some unexplainable reason, today was the day that I decided to open the bible. Perhaps out of guilt. I failed to get up in time to go to the regular mass I go to. The other mass schedules after that are just too difficult to go to for me. Maybe it was because of this that I just decided to open the bible and pray. I really don’t know.

I prayed to God and asked him to speak through whatever passage I open to. I opened the bible to Jeremiah 3, 14. The first sentence was the one that caught me. “Unfaithful people, come back, you belong to me” those few words spoke to me. In a way I felt God calling to me and saying “son, do not lose faith. Come back and I assure you that I will take care of you. Just as I have in the past.”.

I still feel my faith swaying but today I feel that I really need to go back to the giver of my strength, the one God that makes all things possible. I need to have faith in him and trust that he has a great plan in store for me.

In retrospect this is not to say that 2008 was entirely bad, in fact it had it’s great moments. I met a lot of great people this year. Several people from Genzyme, Masako, Dick, Bombit and the Philippine staff. Carmina who so unselfishly has given of her time to support my cause, the PSOD. Kris, my friend’s sister who shares the same love as I do for DLSU basketball and is now one of my favorite chatmates, countless people from Singles for Christ who has made being in community a great experience.

Apart from that somehow, someway I’ve managed to get through this year intact.

In the coming year, I need to regain my faith. I need to once again see the good side of life instead of dwelling on the bad. I’ve done it before and I know I can do it again.

_Special thanks goes to Nes and my SFC group for giving out the bible kits and for always reminding me to pray. It just took me awhile._